Dr. Al-Zindani speaks out [Archives:2004/721/Front Page]

March 18 2004

“I am not worried because I know my brother, and he has done nothing wrong,” said Dr. Mansour Al-Zindani, brother of Sheik Abdul Majid Al-Zindani, who was accused last month by the US government of supporting terrorist activities.
Dr. Al-Zindani, who is a member of the Yemeni Parliament and a professor of political science at Sana'a University, told Yemen Times that without concrete evidence, the accusations must have been geared toward Sheik Al-Zindani's opinions and not actions. Analysts in the West have viewed Sheik Al-Zindani, Chairman of the Shura Council in the Islah (Reform) party, founder of Al-Imam University and once a part of the Presidential Council, as an outspoken anti-American religious leader.
“Everybody in Yemen and all over the Middle East has voiced an opinion about the United States supporting Israel and what it is doing to the Palestinians,” said Dr. Al-Zindani. “Many people in Yemen, across the Middle East, in Europe, in Asia and even in America have been against the war in Iraq. If America has to accuse people of their opinions, they have to aim at 1.2 billion Muslims. If there is clear action and clear evidence, everybody will look at it. But these US accusations were aimed at Sheikh Al-Zindani's opinions.”
Dr. Al-Zindani, who received his Masters in International Relations in the United States at Denver University in 1984 and got his PhD focusing on Yemen's relationship with superpowers at Cairo University in 1988, claims that the US accusations were a political move.
“This must be a political play based on opinions,” said Dr. Al-Zindani. “It is important to view him as a person, not on opinions, politics and so forth. This is how people in Yemen and the Middle East see him. Everybody is free and everybody has the right to voice his or her opinion in America. But it appears that the United States is not allowing my brother to have an opinion.”
The US Treasury Department described Sheikh Al-Zindani as having worked with Al-Qaeda for a number of years, as having helped the organization recruit new members and as having been involved in purchasing weapons for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The Department's decision also included freezing Sheikh Al-Zindani's assets in the United States, and he is prohibited from conducting financial transactions in the United States or doing business with American companies.
“When I asked my brother about freezing his assets, he laughed,” said Dr. Al-Zindani. “He said, 'I don't have one penny in the United States. If I have money, let the United States take it, but I don't have any money there.'”
The US Treasury Department also described Sheikh Al-Zindani as a “loyalist” and a spiritual leader to Osama bin Laden. Sheikh Al-Zindani went to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight Soviet troops. But Dr. Al-Zindani argues that his brother should be seen through what interests him the most.
“Sheikh Al-Zindani is a modern religious man. He uses scientific methods to prove and teach Islam,” said Dr. Al-Zindani. “He uses a scientific approach on how to know Islam. He puts his energy into knowledge, thinks in terms of knowledge and science, and he has based his theories on facts. This is how we know him. This is how people in Yemen and in the Middle East know him as a religious leader. Maybe the United States doesn't know this side of Sheikh Al-Zindani.”
Dr. Al-Zindani, also a member of Parliament's Committee of Foreign Relations, is concerned that the accusations may harm the United States' relationship with Yemen and the Muslim world.
“I am concerned because I do not want the relationship between Yemen and the United States to be affected negatively in this way,” said Dr. Al-Zindani. “Many think that the United States is starting to behave strongly against religious leaders and Muslims overall. The war in Iraq followed by the accusations against my brother could easily increase anger towards America.”